April 10, 2024
Science and Spirituality with Deepak Chopra

The Illusion Of Matter With Special Guest, Bernardo Kastrup.

Is everything just a figment of our imagination? Join renowned author Deepak Chopra and philosopher Bernardo Kastrup as they delve into the nature of reality, questioning materialism and exploring the power of consciousness. This eye-opening conversation will challenge your assumptions about the universe and leave you pondering the true nature of existence.

Listen to the podcast here

The Illusion Of Matter With Special Guest, Bernardo Kastrup

We are continuing our series on cutting-edge conversations with luminaries, and influencers in the field of consciousness and science, or sometimes we say cutting-edge science and spirituality, but people confuse spirituality with many other things. My definition of spirituality is simple self-awareness, awareness of the self. Of course, we have to discuss what that self is, but in the meanwhile, I have a wonderful guest that we are going to add to this series which has been very exciting. I’m so happy to have you. First of all, welcome.

I’m happy to talk to you always, Deepak. It’s a pleasure.

A lot of people have not heard of Bernardo Kastrup. Not a lot of people have not heard of Deepak, but we’ll get them interested. What I’d like to share with our audience is a little bit of your background, where you grew up, what your education was and how you came to be, who you are, the philosopher right now who’s arguing with some of the most important people in the field of science. You’ve had articles and blogs in the Scientific American and elsewhere. You’re getting a lot of attention because you’re disagreeing with the entire field of science, which says that matter is the ontological primitive of the universe. You’re saying that’s not true. Let’s go to how you came to be where you are starting from the beginning.

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in an immigrant family. I’m half Danish from my father’s side and Portuguese from my mother’s side. I had my childhood in Rio, in Brazil. It was an idyllic childhood, very connected to nature and I was too young to be confronted with the realities of the country. I have a very naive picture of what Rio de Janeiro is, and I cherish it. I carry it with me.

I finished my education in Switzerland. I had my first job in Switzerland at CERN, the big particle accelerator. I used to work on the data acquisition system of the Atlas experiment. I helped design that. I moved on to corporate research. I worked at Phillips Research where the Casimir effect of quantum field theory was discovered several decades ago. I became more mature and I went down the entrepreneurial path.

I started a company doing micro-processing technology and developed a media processor. Eventually, that company was bought out by Intel. I continued doing high-tech corporate strategy for almost fifteen years. In parallel with all that, I’ve been doing philosophy. I have a PhD in Computer Engineering and a PhD in Philosophy. Philosophy has been, for now, well over a decade, a side activity.

I’ve written many books. I’ve been defending this notion that the nature of reality is mental. It is consciousness and that materialism is about the worst, the most implausible, metaphysical hypothesis we have on the table now. In the summer of 2023, philosophy has become my full-time job and technology, computer engineering, has become my hobby. It happens back there on my workbench.

Now I am together with Fred Matser, who is a friend of ours. We started a foundation to try to argue for idealism/non-dualism, the idea that reality is in consciousness to argue for it from a purely analytical scientific perspective. Not that the perspective of introspection is any lesser. It’s not. It’s the main perspective. It is the golden avenue to knowledge. We detected that in our culture, in our society, there seems to be this idea that idealism or non-dualism is synonymous with meditation, with spirituality, which sort of implicitly concedes to materialism, the analytical or scientific or empirical high ground. That’s a fallacy.

I think even if there was no such thing as introspection and spirituality, we would still have all good analytic, and scientific reasons to adopt idealism, and non-dualism, instead of materialism. That’s what the foundation is going to try to push over the next several years. May we be judged based on the quality of the arguments we put forward?

I was first drawn to your work when I saw the praise somewhere on the internet. Materialism is baloney. That’s how we actually initially connected, whether you remember that or not. That was my interest in your work. While I totally agree with what you’ve said, I would like to actually ask your opinion about this. You mentioned that there is a scientific way of looking at mind or consciousness as the ontological primitive of reality. You mentioned that.

However, I have always felt that any scientific understanding or mind or consciousness, whether we look at the brain or look at quantum mechanics or whatever models we have, it doesn’t matter, any scientific model that the understanding of consciousness through scientific modeling can only be inferential. It can never be direct. The only direct way of experiencing or knowing fundamental reality is not even introspection, because introspection is, again, using the mind to understand the mind. I personally feel that the only way actually to understand pure consciousness, which is the basis of non-duality, that everything is a modified form of consciousness, is through direct experience of transcendence. Maybe I’m wrong.

The Essential Nature Of Reality

Maybe you are, but I agree with you. If you are wrong, we are wrong together on this. I think the only way to know by acquaintance is to know in the body, as opposed to having a conceptual narrative that leads to a certain conclusion, because that’s not knowledge by acquaintance. It’s what you described as inferential knowledge. The only way to know in the body the essential nature of reality is to experience it directly. I’m totally with you.

Tweet: The only way to really know in the body the essential nature of reality is to experience it directly.

Not only that, this is the only transformative path to knowledge. You can arrive at all kinds of conceptual conclusions through inference in your mind and you can be intellectually convinced of them 100%, but they will not change how you feel about your life, about yourself, about the world, about the events of your life because this is not transformative knowledge. I’m keenly aware of the limitations of the path that we are pursuing. That there is a cultural game going on and that game is played on the basis of conceptual inferential knowledge. Not only that, scientism has elevated conceptual inferential knowledge to the degree of only valid avenue of knowledge. Everything that is firsthand is considered suspicious, ambiguous, and unreliable.



I think reductionist, anything that is not reductionist ends up being pseudoscience.

Reductionist in the bad connotation of the word. You could use the word reductionist in a healthy way. Both you and I believe that at the end of it all, there is one consciousness. In a sense, we are also reducing everything to that one consciousness. The reduction we talk about in our culture is a different form of reduction. It’s a form of reduction that turns reality into a phenomenon. In other words, it tells you that real things are not real, and that they don’t need to be taken seriously. That’s the bad sense of reductionism. Unfortunately, that’s the sense that reigns in our culture. What we are trying to do is to fight, fight this cultural battle, but without losing sight of the fact that at the end of the day, only knowledge by acquaintance really counts.

Tweet: At the end of it all, there is one consciousness.

Bernardo, I want to get into some very interesting discussions that I had with Frank Wilczek. I’m going to have another conversation with him where I think there can be some reconciliation between what you say and what he says because he is a strict materialist. You don’t get the Nobel Prize in physics unless you are a strict materialist at the moment. In his book, he talks about complementarity and about actually a bigger vision that I’ll share with you in a moment. Before we get there, I want you to tell me and our audience why materialism is baloney.

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime


We make two very basic errors. We’ve made them a couple of hundred years ago and now they’ve acquired a lot of cultural momentum. They have become intellectual habits so it’s very difficult to see through the obviousness of the mistakes but the mistakes are obvious. The first one was we’ve replaced reality with a description of reality. We start from experience and then we start describing experience with numbers, mass charge, momentum, direction, speed, frequency, amplitude and so on and so forth.

At some point, something very weird happened. We said that only the numbers existed. The phenomenon, the experiences that were described by those numbers, we said, “They don’t really exist. They are secondary. They arise from the description.” That move is equivalent to trying to pull the territory out of the map.

You start with the territory. That’s how you draw the map to describe the territory. What we’ve done now is we said, “The territory doesn’t exist. Only the map is real.” Now we are trying to pull the territory out of the map and then we fail. We call it the hard problem of consciousness and we think that we will eventually solve it. Good luck with that. That was the first mistake.

The other very primary mistake, which is regrettable in the West, is because over 200 years ago, Schopenhauer was bringing our attention to that. We are mistaking appearances for the thing in itself. What we call the material world around us is how reality presents itself to us. It’s how reality appears to observation.

Now we say, “Matter is all there is.” In other words, there is only the appearance. There is nothing in itself anymore. It’s like going to the movies and saying the images on the screen exist, but the projector doesn’t. There is no projector. There is nothing that projects those images and then trying to make sense of how those images can have a standalone reality, can be autonomous and failing, because that’s what physics is indicating now.

The material reality around us has no standalone existence. It’s not there until you look, which has become cliché, but this cliché has now been experimentally confirmed over and over again. It’s now beyond any doubt arguably since 2015, but since 2018. Now, you cannot even try to argue that the physical objects around us have a standalone existence if you adopt a reductionist perspective, which science does.

It’s two primary mistakes that lead to all kinds of reductions to absurdity. Instead of seeing them for what they are, reductions to absurdity, meaning we’ve taken a wrong turn at some point, let’s retrace our steps and go back to where we’ve taken the wrong turn. Instead of that, we call them problems and we think we’ll solve them eventually. These are not problems. They are the implications of bad thinking. That’s all there is to it.

That’s very loosened, very explicit and very clear why materialism is baloney. Now let me share with you some conversations that I’ve been having with other scientists as well. You mentioned the thing in itself and I mentioned my conversation with Frank Wilczek. Let me talk to the conversation. Please be patient and sympathetic to the conversation, because materialism is the doctrine at the moment.

I wish I had the book with me. I was reading it before my next interview, but it’s called Fundamentals and it’s about fundamentals of physicalist science. I didn’t bring up this with him or with anyone else at the moment. I’d like your comments on the problems, even with the standard model, the cosmological constant, for example, or are there laws of physics at the blank scale of existence?

Do they exist? What caused the Big Bang, if it happened? These are huge problems. The cosmological constant is a problem. The heart problem is a problem. If you believe in the physicalist ontology. Planck’s scale space and geometry are a problem. The era of time is a problem. There are many problems. Can you comment on what’s wrong?

Of course, we don’t have an agreement between quantum physics and the general theory of relativity. That’s another problem. Plus, we have more than 95% of the universe, which is invisible, dark matter and dark energy. You put all that together, cosmological consent, the Big Bang, what caused the Big Bang, multiverse. Sean Carroll at Caltech who, by the way, holds the same position as Fineman and is brilliant, absolutely. I’ve read all his books.

He has a new book out right now called Something Deeply Hidden, where he posits that there are multiple infinite universes and infinite versions of you and me. I’m actually sympathetic to that from a consciousness model also because there’s a line. It says, “Infinite universes come and go in the vast expanse of consciousness. They are like motes of dust dancing in a beam of light shining through the hole in my roof.”

I can understand that if consciousness is infinite, it can modify itself to infinite varieties of experience and that these multiverses could be even species-specific universes because every species has its own bandwidth of experience. Ultimately, we are all conscious agents in the matrix of conscious agents, collectively projecting what we call the physical universe. I’d like you to share these fundamental issues with the standard model of physics, standard cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, all of that, if you can, in a short while.

It’s a lot to comment on there. There are some scientific problems that are valid challenges in science. It may or may not have a large metaphysical bearing. One that may have a big metaphysical bearing is the fine-tuning of the universal constants. They are exquisitely fine-tuned for the existence of complexity. If they were a piece and different from what they are, there would be no complexity. There would be no planets, galaxies, or life for that matter. It’s a big question. There is no reason for them to be what they are. Why are they so fine-tuned? We don’t know. This may have a metaphysical bearing.

No Longer A Stand Alone Existence

Other problems are essentially scientific in nature. We know that the standard model of particle physics holds at the subatomic level. It is exquisitely correct. We know that general relativity holds at the intergalactic level, the big world instead of the microscopic world. We know that they contradict each other. How do we solve that? You get into supersymmetry and grand unification theories. Work is being done. I would say it’s essentially scientific work, not necessarily with a direct metaphysical implication for what the nature of reality is.

There is one thing that has a very direct metaphysical implication and that’s what motivates Sean Carroll to talk about parallel universes. That is the fact that when we look closely to matter to the essential building blocks of matter, the elementary particles. We can no longer say that they have a standalone existence because when you observe them, what you would expect from a materialist perspective is that the act of observation only unveils a property that was already there before you looked.

In other words, matter has a standalone existence. When you observe it, you discover what its properties already were before you looked. What is turning out from experiments, a series of experiments that started in the late ‘70s and culminated in 2015 or 2018, depending on who you talk to, shows that this cannot possibly be the case. Physical properties are not there before you look.

There are excellent theoretical and experimental reasons for you to conclude that. Would this defeat materialism? Materialism says matter is all that exists. If anything has a standalone existence, it’s matter. It would defeat materialism in that way. Is there an escape from materialism? Guess what? There is. The escape is this matter does have standalone existence and the results of the experiments are what they are because every time you look a gazillion new material universes with standalone existence pop into existence every time you look.

Tweet: When we look closely to the essential building blocks of matter, the elementary particles, we can no longer say that they have stand alone existence.

Is there any direct empirical evidence for this? None whatsoever. Zero, nada, zilch. The only motivation to postulate this is to save materialism from the clutches of empirical science, which is telling you that materialism is not correct. Your option is to say, “Matter is not the ultimate reality matter is the appearance of a deeper reality that lies behind it. Maybe a reality of sanctions.” That’s one option.

The other option is to say, “There are a gazillion universes popping up into existence every time you turn your head and look.” That’s Sean Carroll’s option. There may very well be many realms in existence, Deepak. There my intuition goes with yours, but not for the reason Sean Carroll is saying they exist. I think that’s a fundamental difference. You can both agree on the conclusion, but arrive at that conclusion from a completely different path.

I think the path that Sean Carroll is taking to arrive at that conclusion is outright valid. I think it’s disgraceful to the core values of science, parsimony being big amongst them, to postulate the most inflationary explanation conceivable to human thought in the absence of any whatsoever empirical motivation to say it in order to simply safeguard a metaphysical, not a scientific position. Materialism is a metaphysics. It makes a statement about what nature is, not about how nature behaves.

Bernardo, you’re so clear and explicit. Now, I shall tell you about my conversation with Frank and then with another scientist who’s written a book called What is Science? which is very interesting. Also, his name is Don DeGracia. When I was talking to Frank Wilczek, he was very polite, by the way. He is very differential, very respectful and very careful in his language. When we spoke about Sean Carroll, they’re from the same club, obviously, Frank said that’s very speculative and he stopped over there. He more or less agreed with whatever you’re saying. It says it comes under the definition of speculation.

In his book, he does raise the point that the mind could be a byproduct of matter. He does raise that point. He also says in his book that maybe not. He says both things in his book. When I was talking to him, I asked him, “Do you think that matter can produce mind?” He said, “We do produce mind with matter, with our technologies with our information systems, with our computers, with our algorithms. We even went into girdles theorem and all that.”

He stuck with his with his position that theoretically it’s possible for matter to produce bind. He stuck with that. By the way, Dr. Wilczek got the Nobel Prize for discovering a particle that was named anion, which is presumably a particle that may be connected to dark matter or the weekly interactive massive particles or whatever. That’s what the Nobel Prize was for or maybe it wasn’t. It was about asymptotic freedom, actually. That’s what his Nobel Prize was.

He’s also credited with that anion particle. He’s a very humble guy. I asked him, “At night, I have a practice and my practice is a contemplative practice mentally. It is a kind of meditation practice where I go back and visit, in memory, my childhood. I recapitulate everything from my earliest memories to now.” For example, in my meditation, I can see myself in my mother’s lap. I can hear her voice. I can even smell her skin. I felt the love when she was touching me and telling me nursery rhymes or whatever, stories, medical stories.

I then progressively go in my contemplative inquiry into my childhood, in my medical school training, my internship, my residency, my certification as an internist, a neuroendocrinologist, all of that. As I look at these different characters as a witness awareness, I can’t even identify with some of these guys. That guy who was nervous in front of a girl at the age of fourteen and biting his nails. Different body, different mind, different personality, different character, maybe some kind of continuity.

The only continuity is the guy who’s actually witnessing the whole experience. I don’t even know who that is actually, who’s doing that witnessing. I said to him, “It’s very difficult for me to imagine that atoms, particles, force fields and gravity are orchestrating this experience for me. Because if I believe that matter is the ontological primitive, then how does it produce insight, intuition, creativity, vision, longing, aspiration, fear, anxiety, death, fear of death?” His answer was, “Matter is a very interesting process and we are still learning about it.” That’s where we stopped. Something else happened after that. I’ll share that with you now.

The Fundamental Nature Of Matter

In his book, there’s one chapter that talks about the real fundamentals of reality. It’s beautifully written. He’s a very articulate, clear thinker but of course influenced by his friend. That says that the fundamental nature of matter is three ingredients, spin, charge and mass. In the chapter, he also says that spin, charge and mass do not have a structure, number one. They do not have a shape, number two, and number three, they don’t necessarily have a location. They are where these properties reside. Spin, charge and mass.

I was thinking about this a lot. Spin, charge and mass don’t seem to me to be material entities at all. If I go back to my training in the contemplative traditions, there are three things called the gunas. These gunas are movement, transformation and inertia. Movement to me is spin. Transformation is charge. Mass is inertia. None of these are physical entities.

You want me to comment on this? This is rich territory. I can speak for a day.

I want to go further to the thing in itself and Immanuel Kant, but why don’t you speak on this briefly?

We make, in science, usually without knowing fundamental philosophical errors, because philosophy is not science, but we sort of conflate the two and we make philosophical assertions while we are doing science. Things like field, spin are pure abstractions. These are not concrete elements of the world out there. Spin is a way to visualize a certain property of elementary particles, electrons in an orbital of occupying the same orbital have opposite behaviors in a certain sense. We talk about that as spin up and spin down. They can never be the same in the same orbital.

These are theoretical metaphors. The world behaves as if there were such a thing as spin, as if there were such a thing as a quantum field with excitations that we call particles. These are models that allow us to think about how nature behaves. This is one thing. Convenient fictions. They’re very useful. Another thing is to say, this is what reality is. It is spin. It is a quantum field. What is a quantum field? It’s pure abstraction. Aren’t we replacing reality with pure abstraction if we do that? Guess what? That’s exactly we do.

Some scientists are self-aware and honest enough to pursue these to their ultimate implications. You get Max Tegmark in 2014 saying, “There is no matter, we don’t need that baggage. All there is are abstract relationships, pure abstraction.” Can you even visualize that? No, because if you visualize, you’re bringing concreteness into it. You’re bringing qualities into it. You have to grant that under materialism. If you pursue this to its ultimate implications, you get rid of everything and you remain with pure abstraction. That may be satisfying for some because for them the alternative is heretical.

The alternative is so obvious, it’s so patently clear. Behind matter, there is experience. When I’m crying and I look at myself in the mirror and I see those tears flowing down when my facial muscles contract, I know that the reality of that situation is not limited to that image, to that material image on the mirror, those atoms and force fields constituting my body and the tears flowing down. I know that those things are the appearance, the extrinsic appearance of an inner reality, the reality of sorrow, sadness, despair.

We know that there are appearances and there is the thing in itself, in our case. By the way, our body is made of the same atoms and force fields as the rest of the universe. The obvious move is to say that behind all these abstractions that we use to describe appearances and behind the appearances themselves, there is the thing in itself. The thing in itself is mental. It is a movement of consciousness that appears to us in the form of matter.

It’s not pure abstraction. It is as concrete as your next thought, as the love you have for your kids as, as the feeling of hunger when you haven’t eaten, as the despair of loss on the love of the one has died. These things are not abstractions. They are very concrete, real, and present. The alternative is to say reality is concrete. It’s very real. It’s very present. It only appears as what we call matter, which has no standalone existence. We know now that science and everything else is description. The description can be abstract. They are stories. They are useful fiction, and theoretical metaphors that help us predict the behavior of nature. They tell us very little about what nature is.

Bernardo, I think I heard you quote Max Tegmark, whom I’ve also interviewed in the past. The last time I spoke to him, he was a panpsychist, which assumes the existence of matter. Are you sure that he is kind of forsaken matter?

I don’t know where he’s now. The book I was alluding to is Our Mathematical Universe from 2014. There he literally says atoms and force fields are baggage. We don’t need that.

When I spoke to him, by the way, he said mind is an organized matter. That’s what he said. I said, “Why isn’t it the opposite? Why is it matter organized mind?” We left it at there. One of the things that materialists say and in fact, Wilczek says, “I can move my hand with my thoughts, but I can’t move your hand with my thoughts. I can wiggle my toes with my thoughts and I can’t wiggle your toes with your thoughts.” That is an argument against consciousness being fundamental. On the surface that sounds pretty good, but actually, right now, I am moving molecules in your brain in this conversation.

We are on the internet and let’s say, millions of people are watching us. We are moving their molecules too in their brain. Furthermore, I could ask them to wiggle their toes and they would or they wouldn’t. I do influence the world with my thoughts. Even physically speaking, every time I think I move molecules. Every time I speak, I move molecules in your brain and you move molecules in my brain and in the matrix of the internet, we are a body, mind, and brain, all at the same time.

If I said something very insulting, let’s say, I would cause people all over the world to would raise their cortisol and their adrenaline and their blood pressure would rise. If I said something very loving and they felt good about it, I would give them a dopamine hit or a serotonin hit. Actually, our thoughts are influencing the matrix of matter all the time. Every thought actually changes the space-time geometry of the universe.

The Concept Of Consciousness

I think you don’t even need to go that far to get to the root or to get to the error entailed by his statement. The error is the falling. When we say that everything is in consciousness, we don’t mean that it is in your consciousness or my consciousness or my cat’s consciousness. The problem is for a materialist, there is only one way to think about consciousness. That is individual consciousness arising from brain metabolism.

Since that’s the only way they can think about it, they extrapolate it as if it were a fact on the base of which you could judge other ontologists. That’s a philosophical error we call begging the question. It’s circular reasoning only under materialism is consciousness, purely individual. When we are idealists or non-dualists, we are saying precisely that consciousness is a transpersonal field if you want to think in terms of space-time. I think it’s ultimately incorrect, but it may be a valid metaphor.

Consciousness is a field and we are dissociated parts of it. The statement, everything is in mind, it doesn’t mean that it’s in your mind or his mind or my cat’s mind lying next to me. It means that it’s in mind as a category, as a type of existence, the only one that we need to acknowledge in order to explain the whole of reality. I don’t think we even need to go to the lengths you are going there to point out the error. It’s a pretty basic error.

Right now, this conversation, which is being seen, let’s say, by hundreds of thousands of people is in shared mind. Although we call it cyberspace, it is actually a shared mind within that bandwidth of the regular field, the electromagnetic field, which is a projection of the consciousness.

I would go as far as to say that all matter is the extrinsic appearance of mental processes, not your mental processes alone, not my mental processes alone. When it comes to the matter of my brain, it is the appearance of my personal mental processes. The same atoms and force fields constitute galaxies and galaxy clusters. If matter is one thing, in one situation, you are hard-pressed to argue that it’s something totally else in another situation.

I would say that all matter, all physicality, the entire physical universe is merely the extreme appearance of transpersonal mental processes when observed from a certain perspective, namely a dissociated perspective. We then start getting into the details. It’s another way of thinking. When you make the switch, everything becomes a lot simpler, less problematic and then you realize how much physicalism has become a sort of self-perpetuating error through question bagging and through circular reasoning. It becomes very hard for the physicalist deep into it to take a step out of their worldview and contemplate the situation objectively and neutrally. That’s what perpetuates this error. I think part of it, at least.

Even the experience of the brains in the body.

The brain only exists in so far as it is experienced by someone directly or indirectly. You may use an FMRI scan or an MRI scan, but even that only exists insofar as somebody consciously looks at what the scanner is putting out as measurement. Ultimately, you cannot escape experience if you try to escape it, you quickly run out of things to say. There is nothing you can say.

Now we get to the final part, which was very interesting because I’ve been reading this book by Don DeGracia, whom I interviewed. I should have had all these books at my desk, but I don’t. His book is called What Is Science? He’s a professor of physiology at a medical school in the Midwest. He knows biology very well. What he started talking about and it was in his book as well, is about Immanuel Kant talking about the thing in itself. He said, “When I look at an object.” The science behind this is fascinating because when I look at an object, all I see is the reflection of what’s not in there. When I look at an object, I only see the outer expression of what’s in the thing in itself.

Same thing when I touch an object, it is from a scientific perspective. Its force fields and force fields interacting, electrons bumping into electrons. I actually never touch it. The experience of sensation is by exclusion of what’s in there, the thing in itself. That’s true of all the sensors because taste, smell and sound are small bandwidths where everything else is excluded.

Everything that we perceive is through a process of exclusion. The thing itself is not known. This is where Kant stopped. Don goes a little further. He says, “If you’re a yogi,” which I am and I practice between us and now everyone knows I spend about four hours every day between yoga, breathing, contemplation, meditation, etc. The third chapter in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is called a bodhi, attainment, cities, extrasensory perception, etc.

People discount it because it’s so esoteric. That thing is so esoteric, it does train you through the methodologies in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the third chapter, and do train you for extra sensory perception. I practice those techniques. They’re called the cities. They are, by and large, totally ignored even by the yogis and they’re, by and large, ignored, of course, by the scientists because they’re talking about outside the bandwidth of normal human experience.

This is what the yogis say. If I have a relationship with an object, whatever that object is, it could be this book, it could be this phone, it could be this object, a rainbow, a cloud, a tree or whatever, if I have a contemplative relationship with that, which involves three processes, the first is focused attention on the object. I don’t like to use the word concentration because it’s impossible to exclude everything, but real sharp, focused attention. That’s called harna.

The second aspect of the practice is called dharana, which is meditation, which means you keep that focused attention alive, continuous. The third is called samadhi. You transcend and you become one with the object of perception. At that moment you realize that the thing in itself is actually infinite and so are you. You and the thing in itself are both the infinite being appearing as the alchemy of the three, spin charge and mass, if you want to call them that or you can call them create a movement, transformation and inertia, whatever you want to call them. It says once we get to that stage, then we understand the potential of extra-sensory perception.

I have that experience all the time anyway, but I can’t talk about it because I have no scientific framework. People will think, “This guy’s a psycho. He should go with the New Age hippies.” When Don DeGracia mentioned this, I see now that we do have a future science where going beyond the subject-object split actually helps us to create even new technologies.

Right now, all our technologies are based on the fact that we are already in a virtual reality. With our algorithms and all of that, we are creating new technologies. We create VR, immersive dreamscapes, and astonishing hybrids of animals that don’t exist. We create beams that don’t exist because we are creating virtual reality on top of what is already a virtual reality. As we embark on the new science, which takes us from reductionism to holism, but also includes these modes of knowing that we will in fact have a deeper understanding of transpersonal of what they call extra sensory experiences.

I don’t think this is incoherent at all. I don’t even think it is implausible at all. You started talking about it by referring to count in the late 18th century was the first one to make clear that there is the phenomena, in other words, the appearance of things and there’s the thing in itself, but the thing in itself is inaccessible to us. All we have about the thing in itself is how it presents itself to us and then comes the weight of our theoretical modus, which tells us photons are either absorbed or are reflected. We see the ones that are reflected, which is the opposite image or the negative of what is indeed there.

Very shortly, after Kant in the very early 19th century, in 1818 to be precise, Schopenhauer went a step further. We almost never talk about that. It’s so simple. Anybody can understand it. Kant’s reasoning was when I look at the world, I can only access how the world presents itself to us. In other words, I can only access the appearance of the world, not the world as it is in itself behind its appearances. In other words, you cannot access how I am feeling if I’m crying. You can only access the image of the tears flowing down my face. That would be a metaphor to explain that.

The only way to access the thing in itself is to be the thing in itself. Kant went on and said, “But we are not the universe,” so it’s a mystery for us. I would have been happy if science had been since then consistent with this epistemic boundary, with this awareness of what we cannot know. Schopenhauer, two decades later, a little bit more, already went further. His line of thinking was there is exactly one thing for which I know the thing in itself, not only how it appears to observation. That one thing is me.

I am the thing in itself when it comes to me. Even if I didn’t have a mirror, even if I were blind, deaf, incapable of tasting or touching or smelling, I would still have my inner feelings, my endogenous feelings, my fears, my desires, my comfort, my discomfort, my thoughts, my imagination, my emotions. What Schopenhauer said was, when it comes to us, we know the thing in itself. It is an endogenous inner experience. He called it the will because the will is endogenous. It was a shortcut in language for him.

He continued and he said, “If I am the thing in itself as the will, as inner feelings and if my inner feelings present themselves or appear to the observation of others as the matter in my body,” because that’s how our inner life presents itself to the observation of others, it’s the matter that constitutes our body. He went on and reasoned, “That matter is constituted of the same atoms and force fields that constitute the rest of the world. By knowing myself, I can know the world.” It’s a purely rational line of reasoning.

I’m not saying that introspection is bad. It’s not. It’s the royal avenue to knowledge or direct spiritual experience, but it is relevant for materialists to observe that Schopenhauer’s line of reasoning here was that reasoning. He was not appealing to any meditative insight that may be inaccessible to somebody else. He’s appealing to pure, simple reason and observation. He went beyond content and said, “We can know the thing in itself insofar as we know ourselves.” He has this wonderful statement. “We have to learn about nature from ourselves, not learn about ourselves from nature.” He inverted the arrow. I didn’t quote exactly right, but that’s what he meant. I think he is right. He was on the ball there.

You’re absolutely right. I think to some extent, Schrodinger who said consciousness is singular without no plural, even Wittgenstein hinted that there is more to reality than appears as matter. Thank you, Bernardo.

It’s a pleasure.


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